The heat will be off the Phillies, unofficially, when rosters expand Sept. 1. In the meantime, Rule 5 pick David Herndon is proving he belongs. (Getty)
The soon-to-be-25-year-old right-hander constituted one of the lone highlights in an otherwise forgettable finale Thursday night against the Giants, preserving the bullpen by soaking up three perfect innings. The Phils need to keep him on the active roster all season in order to retain him. Once they do, he can be maneuvered between the majors and minors as a young player normally would. The cavalry arrives in 12 days (Bastardo, Zagurski, Mathieson, Worley perhaps), so barring any unforeseen development, mission accomplished and Herndon will be in the fray for the next several years.
Controlling a young arm like Herndon’s is the real reward for dedicating precious roster space to an unproven player. But at what price? Stats never do justice to relief pitching, especially for guy like Herndon who assumed sponge role. Out of 120 games, he’s seen action in 34 of them. So the question is whether his existence prevented someone better from getting a shot. It didn't. A guy like Bastardo has been a big tease, while Mathieson doesn’t appear to have the secondary pitches needed to cross over to the big leagues. Herndon, meanwhile, at least has some assets like a big arm, good control, a sinker and improving slider suited for a middle relief role.Did he help or hinder? At worst, it's a push, but the best may be yet to come.